April 23, 2017

Last Week Before Summer!

It is Sunday, and I am at home, once again. My son has my car, and I am here alone. It is a lovely day in sunny and warm, Phoenix, and praise be to God, I am ready to tackle my remaining grading. I want to finish everything on my plate so that I can be ready for the big finish: my last day of class on Wednesday. I am ready, so ready for this semester to be over!

I’ve got a lot on my plate today, thanks in part to a busy day yesterday.  My nephew, his girlfriend, and their good friend (from out of town), came over to visit mid-day. It was great to see them, but it interrupted my plan to grade. I goofed in thinking I could put off my grading until the afternoon (sigh!) and chose, instead, to go to the grocery store and to Kohls. I needed to do both, but you know…the best laid plans and all. I didn’t know they were coming over, so while I enjoyed visiting with them, my grading took a back seat. So now, I am yet again, behind the “eight ball.” I’ve got it covered, I am confident, but my plan to rest today has been ka-smooshed.

Frogs and Dreams

I rested semi-well last night. I went to bed quite early, and I think I fell asleep right away. I had a strange “teacher” dream, and I woke up this morning thinking about it, and what it meant, if anything. In the dream, I was in class with another teacher, about my age. This teacher reminded me of one of my son’s music teachers or a teacher from his college, ACU (why? I don’t really know, but she was older, heavy set with blondish/grayish hair). In my dream, I was explaining how to use proper references (library versus Internet), when this other teacher came in and began to explain that we were going to play a game. One of the students asked me about using an Internet source, and I was explaining the order of using good credible sources. I remember that as I was writing sources on the blackboard, the chalk wasn’t showing up very well. I tried to write clearly, but the words seemed to either fade into the background or not stick to the greenish/black background. I thought it was odd that there wasn’t a white board in classroom because one uses chalkboards anymore! I continued to write my list when this other teacher showed up and began to talk over me. She erased my list, and told the class that we were going to play a game.

I thought is was odd that this other teacher interrupted my lecture, and that she called on me specifically, saying I was to do something important or be a part of her game. She treated me as if I knew what the game was and how to play it, but I was clueless, of course. I took a seat at a nearby table. The group of students was all male, and they seemed more than happy to play a game. I pretended to know what I was doing and went along with what this teacher was asking them to do. The game, as weird as it may sound, was about frogs. It was a spiritual game, I think. It had these game pieces, a set of dice, and then these gummy frogs. One of the boys wanted to eat the frogs because he was hungry. The others started moving their pieces around the board. The board was like a bingo board, you know, with 12 or 15 squares. The squares said things, and then there were game cards that told you what to do. I just remember looking at these little frogs and then these containers (they were round) printed with some spiritual saying on them. Each one had a frog on it with a quote. The whole game made no sense to me, and even when we finished playing it, and one of the boys “won,” I didn’t understand what was happening. I just sat there. That is — until I started to speak to one of the girls sitting near me.

As the game ended, I remember looking up at this sweet blonde girl — she reminded me of one of my freshman students — who was seated near me. I said to her, “What are you doing the next couple weeks?” She replied, “I am going to teach!” I laughed because I knew she would be teaching high school, and that I knew how hard it would be on her. I wished her well, and I told her that she better prepare for the hard time she will have with high school kids. She laughed and said she was ready for them. We chatted briefly, I then told her that there were days where I didn’t like my job at all, but they were few and far between. The majority of the time, I told her, that I loved my job!

As I left the classroom, I thought that this girl would really learn how to teach English because she would be teaching high school. I said, “I wish I would have had that opportunity,” thinking that had I taught high school English, I would be an expert by now. Instead, I walked down the hallway shaking my head and wondering what I was doing in this school, how I came to be a teacher at all, and why I was playing a game about frogs with a bunch of students who appeared to be high school or early college age.

Interpretation (if there is one)

According to DreamMoods.com, "To see a frog in your dream represents a potential for change or the unexpected. The frog may be a prince in disguise and thus signify transformation, renewal or rebirth.” More so, Aunty Flo’s dream dictionary says that frogs appear in women’s dreams more often than in men. Men, it seems, dream of toads. Aunty Flo says, “Despite it being unattractive, a frog can be associated with positive times.” Frogs in dreams can be, “a sign of the unpredictable, changeable, and spontaneous events in life.” Hmmm.

While I don’t buy into the dream interpretation thing simply because to pay attention to it can cause you to become enamored with the occult, and that of course, is strictly forbidden in God’s word, I do think it is interesting that certain things, animals in particular, have a meaning associated with them. From a cultural studies perspective, I think it is interesting to see how meaning is derived at by humans, and that over time, certain a meaning has “stuck” with certain things such as objects, places, animals, or even types of events (like my dream of tornadoes).

Biblically speaking, I do believe dreams are to be interpreted. Take Joseph’s interpretation of the famine that was coming to Egypt or Daniel’s interpretation of the writing on the wall. Clearly, God gave prophetic understanding to His people, and He often used them to interpret signs and wonders for nonbelievers. The point was always to foretell the future, and to demonstrate the sovereignty and will of the LORD.

So while I won’t say I have prophetic vision or the ability to interpret dreams, I will say that I have always been a “dreamer.” I have always had vivid dreams, and often my dreams seem to have some meaning associated with them. I don’t prophesy dreams for others, no. Rather, my dreams always seem to have something to say about me, my life, circumstances in my life, or even past events that need some clarification or understanding. I don’t always take “stock” in the dream or the interpretation, but I do think about them and what they could mean. Sometimes, I have received insight or understanding in the form of clarification, especially on past events. 

In short, some times my dreams have helped me to understand difficult times in my past, and with proper consideration, mediation, and then confession, I have come to a point where I am set free. So for example, as a child, I used to have paralyzing dreams about tornadoes. And, when I say paralyzing dreams, I mean dreams that were so vivid and real that I would wake up from them in a dripping sweat, panicked with racing heart, and paralyzed by fear to the point where I couldn’t move. I dreamt this way throughout my childhood and young adult years. It took considered effort and understanding to realize that the turmoil of my childhood, the abuse I suffered, and the years of fear were all related to one specific event when I witnessed a tornado near my home. For me, the symbol of tornado represented my childhood fear of abuse. 

Thus, whenever I was afraid as an adult, panicked over some event, or put into a place where I felt incapable of being free — I would dream of tornados. Once, I discovered how this symbol of nature was directly tied to my childhood experience, with the Lord’s help, I was able to finally be set free. In fact, my first visit to VA was a turning point for me. I was in my hotel and we had a tornado pass over top. I stayed in my room, rather than go to the basement like I should have. I was completely calm as I heard the voice of the Lord tell me to not be afraid. I watched the storm pass, and after it cleared and I ventured out, I knew that the Lord would never leave me. I could face my worst nightmare, a tornado, and not be moved. He was my ROCK, my REFUGE, and my STRONG TOWER.

Now, I still have dreams, but not as often. In fact, most of the time, I sleep without even remembering them. Researchers say we all dream, but that we don’t always wake up and remember the details the next day. Some people are bothered by them, and some people have them regularly. It is unusual to have vivid dreams, like the kind I had growing up, or to be plagued by dreams that cause disruption on a nightly basis, but that some people do suffer like this (sadly). Like I said, for me, it was a regular occurrence up until about two years ago. I don’t remember the exact reason why my dreams ended, but they did. Now, I have dreams that I can recall maybe once every 6 or so weeks.

Back to the frog and my dream. Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” I remember this quote because I often use it in class when I talk on procrastination. It is a good thought, a reminder that often we procrastinate when we are faced with a particularly daunting challenge or some uncomfortable or unpleasant task. By eating that which is “worst,” we get it over with, and then can know that our day has every possibility of getting better. I mean, what is the worst that could happen on any given day? Eating a live frog is probably not even on your radar, know what I mean?

In my case, I don’t think my dream was about procrastination. I guess you could draw that connection considering I didn’t get my work done yesterday, and instead of jumping to my grading (no pun intended), I went shopping. I think though that my dream just wasn’t about frogs, and I certainly wasn’t eating them (well, the gummy frogs might give that impression). No, the frogs in my dream were not live frogs at all. The were little ceramic frogs, little gummy bear like frogs, and papers, boards, and containers imprinted with frogs and sayings about frogs. There was a spiritual connection because the game board had to due with life, almost like a version of the game of Life or Monopoly. I remember that the moves were dictated by dice.

Aunty Flo’s Dream Dictionary says this about dice:

"A die in your dream is a sign of an organized life. A die makes you think of luck and gambling right away. The dream guides you to believe in a providential chance. Seeing yourself playing dice means that you are taking some risks, and you are playing with your fate. Dreaming of many dice can indicate a risky situation. Dice in dreams usually refer to your fortune. Dreaming of them could mean that your success will change in the near future.”

I think the idea is fascinating, really. I get the whole connection between gambling and risk. Fate, as it is said, is the predetermined path one takes. It is fate. It is destiny. Hmmm.

Dreammoods.org says that board games are also an interesting feature in some dreams. They state, "To see or play board games in your dream signifies your progress in life. How you do in the board game is analogous to the setbacks and accomplishments in your waking life. Consider the name of the board game you are playing in your dream for additional significance.”

With all this in mind, I have to say that I can see some connection between my dream and a possible interpretation, however, like I stated before, most of this is conjecture or nonsense. I do believe that at times, I have dreams that could be interpreted, and that sometimes those dreams actually do have a connection to my current reality or life experience.

In this scenario, I can see the following connections, symbolic or not.

First, I am a teacher, and I do teach English. I felt that I was in a classroom with high school age + students. I was teaching when another teaching walked into the room. I recognized this teacher, but she was not someone I knew or had ever taught along side. She was acting as if she was the lead teacher, and in this way, I was made to feel like I was a secondary influence, an assistant, or even a student teacher. The game she wanted to play made no sense to me. I was confused, and I felt as if she simply took over or pushed me aside. Connection: I currently teach at GCU where I have assistants who help me. This semester, in particular, I have had one individual who has consistently tried to usurp my authority in the classroom. It has been difficult, to say the least, but I chose to be accommodating, and to work with this person since I knew I only had to be in the same room with this person for 15 weeks.

Second, the game itself was nonsensical. It made no real sense, though it had a connection to other real-life board games, bingo mostly. Bingo is a “ game in which players mark off numbers on cards as the numbers are drawn randomly by a caller, the winner being the first person to mark off five numbers in a row or another required pattern” (Dictionary.com). It is a game of chance. It is also a saying used to denote “satisfaction or surprise at a sudden positive event or outcome” (Dictionary.com). In this particular game, however, frogs were used as game pieces. Frogs from dreams are considered a fortuitous symbol or a sign of positive change. Perhaps the game was related to a change in fortune or the possibility of a change in my future. I don’t know. I think it is interesting that the person who wanted to play the game was this secondary teacher. Connection: I am not a game player, it should be noted. I do not play games normally, and I don’t play mental games EVER. In fact, I shun games to the point of purposefully staying away from them. I don’t gamble or play board games. I don’t do the mind games, either. I simply feel that games often are used for dishonest purposes, and in my life experience, games were always used to make winners and losers (me, mostly). The game players in my life liked to “play to win,” and they made the experience one of humiliation. Thus, games are not a positive thing to me. I don’t enjoy them, and I don’t play them. Perhaps this is why I was confused. I am not a game player, therefore, I don’t understand the rules of how to play the game. I often will struggle with rules whenever I do play new games. I mean, I know how to play Monopoly, for example, but if someone introduces me to a new game, say a card game, I will often feel confused or confounded with the directions.

Third, the students seemed interested in playing the game, and my conversation with the young girl at the end of the dream suggested to me that the class was over or that it was toward the end of the school year. Connection: It is the end of the year.

Fourth, and finally, the spiritual aspect of this game stuck with me. I remember looking at the can, sort of a cylindrical container or maybe a pot, and the saying on the front of it had writing about life, quoted words, that had a spiritual connotation. I don’t remember the words, but the picture on the container looked like something you might find in a Hallmark store. It looked like it was a real game, with real game pieces, and real connection to some inspirational moment. As a Christian, I noted the spiritual significance of the game, but I didn’t see the words or couldn’t recall what they said. This suggested to me that the words that were either not available to me or that I wasn’t permitted to see the writing. Perhaps the words had no measure or significance, I don’t know. I just know that before I turned to speak to this student, I carefully looked at the words, and while I saw them and recognized the writing, I couldn’t read what was written. Connection: I am stumped at this point other than to say that I was glad the game was over. I didn’t get it, I didn’t grasp the meaning, and while the students seemed amused, they didn’t seem to care one way or the other about it. I think what this means is that the person in my classroom might have been entertaining to my students, but the context of what was shared or done, had no lasting effect.

All of this is to say that apparently I have been concerned about the effect and influence this particular person had in my class. The game, the frogs, the interruption, all of it proved to be nonsensical. In hindsight, I probably should have done something right away to stop the game, but I stepped aside, and I allowed this person to have a voice in my room. In truth, I would do this with anyone simply out of courtesy. However, what I received in return was disruption, and this unwelcome presence that simply served to undermine my authority and integrity in the class. As I think about this dream and make connections, I really do not know the truth. Perhaps my dream was just about frogs, lol! Or perhaps it was about my future, and that despite the game, the unusual interruption, etc., my future is about to change — for the better. So while I don’t put a lot of stock in dreams, I do believe that in this case, my future is going to change. I have blogged about my future, how my path is clearly set, and how I am waiting for the Lord to reveal His will to me. I am waiting for Him to open that next door, and once He does, my future life will be settled. In short, I know my future is secure because it is in His hands, and as such, I believe that my future is already planned, prepared, and position to be prosperous and positive.
Putting It All Together

As I sit here today, listening to my church online, I realize that I am in this special place right now. This is my last weekend before school ends. I am closing out my fourth year of teaching at GCU, and I have this strong inclination that this will be my last at this school. I have loved teaching here, and I have enjoyed the blessing of so many special students, but I have never felt that there was a permanent place for me. GCU has been preparatory for me, and thankfully, as a result of my experience here, I have been able to teach other places, and now I have a good “setup” with several online schools. I believe this is the direction the Lord is leading me, and for that I am so thankful. I am so very thankful for His provision of online teaching.

My life is coming to a close as I know it — in the sense of transition — and I am about to begin a formal move toward establishment. What this means is that for the past seven years, I have worked and studied to become a full-time professor. The Lord has provided temporary work to me, and I have been able to complete my doctoral program as a result. Now, I am ready to be moved into a full-time faculty position. With this move, I will also be ready to move out of my current rental home and into  my own place. Furthermore, I will be able to begin making plans for my retirement and my future, in addition to beginning to work toward the ministry calling that I believe the Lord has for me. I am ready to be my own person, to be established, to be planted and well-watered. But, in order to do this, I must leave my temporary work behind. I must accept my calling and the mandate that is moving me to the position as faculty member and into full-time ministry. I must prepare myself for change. My future is to begin with a major life change, and that major life change will include a new job, a new home, and a new focus. I know this, I can sense that this is the unexpected event, the uncertainty that was hidden in the message of the frog game. There is information to be known, but I cannot see it. I must rest, wait for it, and in time, the Lord will make all things clear to me. Until that time, I finish my semester out, letting the events of the last 15 weeks go. I rest in His abilities to provide for me, and I trust that He will show me, reveal to me, and help me to see His marvelous plan of action.

In conclusion, frogs aside, I believe that my life is about to get a massive shake-up, and in this way, I will be forced to take a lead role in my family. I will begin to make decisions that impact all our lives, and I will become the head of household as the Lord has said to me for the past four years. I will become the head of my own household, and in this role, I will work, serve, and minister as the Lord leads, guides, and provides for me. He is good. He is so very good to me.

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